The major mechanical projects are just about finished! I ended up outsourcing a bit of work for the 3rd member swap as I didn't have the tools/means of pressing out the axle shaft and swapping wheel bearings.
New shoes were in order after the diff was swapped out! I opted for some trusty BF-G KO2 tires in a 33x10.5 r15 size.
I finally feel as though I'm at the half way point with the project! Nearly ready for this season's adventures!
The other weekend the wife and I went camping in northern New Mexico and brought both of our Monteros. Met up with a friend who also just picked up a 3rd gen Montero. All the vehicles did quite well, but we certainly found the limits on the main trail leading to Goose Lake.
It was a hot day and with the vehicles fairly well loaded down and with plenty of low speed crawling- temps in the 3rd gen vehicles started becoming problematic. We pressed on several times after the vehicles cooled, but ultimately the trail stopped us at a loose, high camber rock wash out in the trail. Our 3rd gen was unable to make it up this small obstacle as traction was just not there. For whatever reason, it seemed like the center locking differential wasn't really working. Front tires would spin and the rear wasn't doing much. Our red Gen 2.5 made it past this obstacle without any such issue and I was honestly very surprised the gen 3 was unable to pass. If anyone has any ideas on the 3rd gen's center locking differential, I'd appreciate it.
That said, the red Gen 2.5 did extremely well on the trip. It was without question, the stronger crawler and proved to be extremely capable as an expedition vehicle. As this was the maiden trip in the vehicle I was honestly a little hesitant to push the vehicle, but it really surpassed my expectations!
There are a few things that I need to sort out still on the build. Other than an alignment and installing the rear springs/panhard bar, the engine likely needs some maintenance. When the engine is at operating temp, there is an excessive amount of ticking/noise at idle. Seems like hydraulic lifters, or something rattling away, but it becomes more quiet when rpms are above 2,000 or so. When listening to the engine with a stethoscope, it sounds like it's coming from the main crank case as opposed to the valve train. Any thoughts on this?
Quick camping trip over the weekend in Pike National Forest. Found a rock quarry after a few miles of trails. The last mile was fairly steep and I had to use the locker and 4 low. Decided to camp nearby and thankfully the steep trails meant for a quiet evening. It has been great to explore and test the limits of the 2000 Montero!
Finally finished up a few small projects. Installed the rear panhard bar from Adventure Driven Design as well as their 1" rear heavy duty springs. Install was straight forward in the springs- especially thanks to this quick tutorial video.
While there I installed their longer rear brake line and a fresh new longer breather hose to aid with the rear articulation. Installing the brake line was a small with some penetrant spray and two rounds of heat (spray, heat, spray, heat and one last round of spray). Bled all the brakes and noticed the front drivers side caliper was rather loose on the slides- so that will need attention here soon.
I also finished painting the front two wheels silver! Been on my to do list for too long. The project list is getting short!
I've also been trying out these Corbeau GTS-II seats for a while and they are fairly comfortable- but a little too stiff for the wife- so they are for sale if anyone is interested.
It sure looks like it, but parking on an inclined driveway with the parking brake engaged tends to increase the lift effect. I also don't have any weight in the rear as there are only front seats installed in the car. Once the springs settle and there is a bit more weight in the car I expect things to settle out.
Time for an update. Now that I've got some miles on the setup, figure it's time to comment on the build and overall direction.
The suspension overall is fairly taught and honestly pretty comfortable. The bushings don't transmit to much of the harshness that I've come to expect from other poly bushings for most sports cars. Things just feel refreshed and taught. The springs and struts are a decent match for road going use, but do feel a little under-dampened at times. This however makes for great trail manners and I wouldn't change a thing with the dampening. I've actually been daily driving the Montero for a while and find the ride to be quite pleasant- especially since I've had the alignment. The rear springs never did settle down and the rear ride height is still fairly tall.
Few things that quite frankly surprised me is that I've been getting an average of 20mpg with mixed driving. Granted, I drive this vehicle rather gently as it feels top heavy and I never feel like I'm in a rush as a result. Again, this may be slightly off due to the 4.63 gearing and 33x10.5r15 tires... The paint job also gets a fair bit of attention- in a good way. I've had many a conversation with some curious people at gas stations, store parking lots, stopped at traffic lights or just cruising along in traffic. It's actually getting more head turning than my Z4 M-Coupe (small red sports car) ironically enough.
Since the last update I've been replacing various worn interior bits, installed the rear seats and have been getting practice with welding in preparation for a custom roof rack and rock slider install. The practice welding has recently been on a brush guard that I found on a narrow body Montero at a wrecking yard. Quickly realized it wouldn't fit a wider body Montero and set about a bit of fab work to make this work. I was initially planning to get a steel bumper but decided this would likely be a better fit for now as it would help hold additional lights, be lighter overall and allow for guide wires (limb risers?) once I get the roof rack built. Anyways, the brush guard was in rough shape and once all the fab work is finished I'll likely have it sand blasted and possibly powder coated.
Also been working on the center console and a better cup holder. The prototype is coming along nicely!
Some other adjustments made to the brush guard to help with rigidity and to ensure light from the projectors won't get blocked/reflected. Next step is to find a shop to media blast and perhaps powder coat the assembly...
Went camping the other weekend over by South Fork Colorado. Ended up setting up camp at Poage Lake and used that as a home base for the long weekend. Many adventures were had in the area and these are just a hand full of the more scenic ones.
The longest trip was with just the wife and I, where we started at Hwy 149, and the 520. First Pass was called Stony pass and then up thru Eureka and over Cinnamon Pass to Lake City. That trip was easy going for the car, but certainly had a fair number of technical climbs, one of which began at dusk as it started raining/sleet. Nothing like a little adventure! Being on the steep inclines made the fuel gauge quite inaccurate and we relied on our logic and pressed on, but there were certainly several conversations on the fuel and decisions to turn back to Silverton or to press forward to Lake City. Perhaps its best to carry an extra 5 gallons of fuel for such occations.
Well- I'm now facing another issue that needs to be resolved. The car sprung an oil leak recently... Dropped a quart over 60-80 miles or so. Upon inspection out appears to be coming from the head gasket and not the freshly replaced valve cover gaskets. The car runs and drives great, but the oil consumption is concerning.
I'm honestly at a bit of an impasse. I'm somewhat considering options of redoing the top end of the engine or moving onto something different and selling the vehicle. I'd honestly appreciate thoughts on the situation.
Man that is a tough one, if you are planning on getting a new(er) car, I would honestly consider selling the Montero for a few vehicles, but if funds are not that big for a decent car and you have the know how, tools, and time to fix the leak correctly it will be better economically in the end, although I'm driving my Montero daily, it really is my spare vehicle, I just missed driving it and now I want to do some upgrades to it.
If you have the room and money to spare make the Montero your project, but be careful and plan a budget accordingly otherwise it can become a worse decision.